This is one of the best travel forums for Europe that I have found, so I will pose my questions here and see what happens. I have read here that I should be detailed - you have been warned.
Oh, and I have been a Rick Steves fan since 1996 when I discovered his PBS marathon and over-planned for my first trip to Germany. I still have those VHS tapes. I am surprised this is the first time I have used this forum.
BACKGROUND: I am a single retired male, 61, not in great shape (but trying), on a reasonable but by no means lavish pension. Thus I have more ambition and time than youth and money. I have read books, I have maps/guides galore, I have a plethora of diverse websites, and so much information that I am overwhelmed to the point of paralysis.
I am traveling solo, and there is no one available at this time to help plan. Solo travel is going to be WAY easier than solo planning.
I have some understanding of German and Spanish, only barely enough to mention. I have spent time in Germany in summer, but that is it for my European exposure (and I was with natives, so I was essentially on guided tours). I don't see how I can "pack light" as I must lug a CPAP machine and pack for diverse weather, so there is no way for me to fit everything in one bag on my back (unless I break out the old 90 liter backpack, which is ugly, heavy and screams tourist, but it IS an option). I am going in the off/shoulder season for all the obvious reasons.
(This could easily branch into "packing/wardrobe", "elder travel", “solo travel”, “travel partners”, “budget travel”, “slow travel” – but not yet. Believe me, I have been trying to do all of that at once and it is not working!)
TRAVEL DATES: February – June 2015 flexible (Using Freq Flier miles so I can afford to eat penalties for changing flights). I will plan on plenty of time out of Schengen zone so will not exceed my 90 days.
WHERE: Well, that’s the problem. I will begin in Northern Germany with friends and family (Landstuhl, SE of Frankfurt), and wish to end up in UK/Ireland/Scotland in May/June - but after that I am floundering. I have four+ months and want to spend at least a week in each place I go. I would like to explore as many new regions as possible, BUT I want it to be leisurely (not blitzkrieg tourism). Renting apartments and AirBnB vs. daily hotels is my current “plan”. I don't think I fit into hosteling, but I have never tried so I do not rule it out.
I have this vague itinerary:
Escape N European winter for warmer climes in the Med: Crete and Rhodes are popping up. Perhaps S Italy, Spain or Portugal. It gets even more amorphous after that…
Moving north into N Italy/Spain, S France, Croatia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Coastal/N France, UK/IE then back to Germany in June (France and Benelux from there).
Now if that does not sound like blitzkrieg tourism, I don’t know what does. If I must narrow down: N Germany/Benelux, Prague, Aegean, Tuscany, S France, UK, and Ireland. But I am a newbie, so I am VERY open to suggestion.
All I know at this time is that I AM going… I absolutely must get out of this comfort zone.
I am looking to this experienced crowd for suggestions, and help narrowing destinations and timing.
Thank you for your patience with an old dog trying to learn new tricks.